TITLE: Xavier's Story
By Donna Howell
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Tonight, our four year old grandson breaths for the first time in his young life without the benefit of a tracheostomy, or ventilator. Someday he will also speak with the help of a speech therapist. Xavier had life changing surgery on April 17, 2008, when rib tissue was removed from his side, in order to form a new trachea during the same surgery. It is absolutely amazing what God can do with a rib.
Xavier’s trachea was destroyed by the years of scar tissue formation due to the tracheostomy, which was necessary for a premature, just over two poun baby boy. We never heard those beautiful baby sounds from our grandson. Though we never heard the first words he would have uttered, he has learned in recent months to place his finger over the tiny hole in his tracheostomy tube, and whisper his words. Music to our ears. No we haven’t heard him speak, but we have heard his heart. We have marveled many times at all of his beautiful facial expressions. There are happy ones, sad ones, thoughtful ones, and yes, even mad ones. When he looks into your eyes you feel as if he can see your soul.
Today, after eleven days in a medically induced coma, he was taken back to surgery to have a look at his beautifully formed new trachea. Pictures were taken. My daughter will share those pictures as proudly as most mothers share those of their newborn infants. He’s our miracle.
His brand new trachea will bring with it a new life for Xavier. It will mean a more normal life with real school, and fewer doctor’s visits. He will look like the other children, and he will not have to be so “careful.” He will eat. Until now, he could only handle soft foods that were easily swallowed, and then had to be supplemented through a feeding tube in his stomach. His button, as we called it. He will laugh, and talk, and probably cry too. I can’t wait.
I was anxious to see him as I entered the hospital. It had been a long two weeks of waiting and wondering. When I walked through the door of his private room, he was sitting up in bed, watching cartoons, completely oblivious to the fact that he had been asleep for so long, and in that time, some things had changed. The tracheostomy and tube were gone. I don’t recall ever seeing him without it. The bandage across his neck was gone too. A four inch scar was visible. We aren’t drawing his attention to it just yet. He needs time. In each of our own faces was the overwhelming emotion, so we took a page from Xavier’s book. The joy on our faces, and the tears in our eyes said it all. “Thank you God. We are most grateful”
This is Xavier’s story, so far. There is much more to tell. Someday he will tell it himself, and I will cheer him on. Stay tuned.
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